Legal Correspondent

"Right to representation available only to the extent provided in the Rules"
"These are not questions in a court." Bench dismisses the Superior Court ruling.

New Delhi: an employee has no legal right to hire a lawyer while facing charges in a national investigation before the disciplinary authority, the Supreme Court has held.

A court of law, Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta, said: "The law in this country does not grant an absolute right of representation to an employee in internal investigations as part of his right to be heard." There is no right to representation of another person, unless the rules or regulations and standing orders, if any, governing the conduct of disciplinary procedures specifically recognize that right and provide such representation.

" The court said that "the basic principle is that an employee has no right to representation in the departmental process by another person or attorney, unless the Rules of the Service specifically stipulate the same." The right to representation is only available to the extent specifically stipulated in the Rules.

" In the present case, the interviewee K.V. Rama Reddy, who works at National Seeds Corporation Ltd., was accused of misappropriation and requested an internal investigation. His request for assistance from a retired company official was rejected and his declaration in the Karnataka High Court also failed.

Plea rejected

Thereafter, he sought a lawyer's assistance and this was also rejected.
On a petition, the High Court directed the management to consider afresh his prayer for being represented by a legal practitioner. The present appeal by the Corporation is directed against this judgment.

The Bench, quoting an earlier judgment, said: "These are not enquiries in a court of law. In these enquiries, fairly simple questions of fact as to whether certain acts of misconduct were committed by a workman or not only are to be considered. It may often happen that the accused workman will be best suited and fully able to cross examine the witnesses who have spoken against him and to examine witnesses in his favor .

When the general practice by domestic tribunals was that a person accused conducted his own case, it was unable to accept an argument that natural justice demanded that in the case of enquiries into a charge sheet of misconduct against a workman he should be represented by a legal practitioner, the Bench said and set aside the impugned judgment.

To master the process of conducting Domestic Inquiry enroll into our course on

 Diploma in Domestic Inquiry Management